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Mt.crewchief

I didn't know this!!!

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This Really Exists: Giant Concrete Arrows That Point a Way Across America.

Cement Arrows, Transcontinental

Air Mail Route

Courtesy of Aviation Archaeological Investigation & Research

Every so often, usually in the vast deserts of the American Southwest, a hiker or a backpacker will run across something puzzling: a concrete arrow, as much as seventy feet in length, just sitting in the middle of scrub-covered nowhere. What are these giant arrows? Some kind of surveying mark? Landing beacons for flying saucers? Earth's turn signals? No, it's.

The Transcontinental Air Mail Route

http://www.cntraveler.com/dam/daily-traveler/2013/06/transconti

A re-creation of a 1920s map showing the route of airmail planes; the dots are intermediate stops along the course.

On August 20, 1920, the United States opened its first coast-to-coast airmail delivery route, just 60 years after the Pony Express closed up shop. There were no good aviation charts in those days, so pilots had to eyeball their way across the country using landmarks. This meant that flying in bad weather was difficult, and night flying was just about impossible.

The Postal Service solved the problem with the worlds first ground-based civilian navigation system: a series of lit beacons that would extend from New York to San Francisco. Every ten miles, pilots would pass a bright yellow concrete arrow. Each arrow would be surmounted by a 51-foot steel tower and lit by a million-candlepower rotating beacon. (A generator shed at the tail of each arrow powered the beacon). Now mail could get from the Atlantic to the Pacific not in a matter of weeks, but in just 30 hours or so.

Even the dumbest of air mail pilots, it seems, could follow a series of bright yellow arrows straight out of a Tex Avery cartoon. By 1924, just a year after Congress funded it, the line of giant concrete markers stretched from Rock Springs, Wyoming to Cleveland, Ohio. The next summer, it reached all the way to New York, and by 1929 it spanned the continent uninterrupted, the envy of postal systems worldwide.

Radio and radar are, of course, infinitely less cool than a concrete Yellow Brick Road from sea to shining sea, but I think we all know how this story ends. New advances in communication and navigation technology made the big arrows obsolete, and the Commerce Department decommissioned the beacons in the 1940s. The steel towers were torn down and went to the war effort. But the hundreds of arrows remain. Their yellow paint is gone, their concrete cracks a little more with every winter frost, and no one crosses their path much, except for coyotes and tumbleweeds. But they âre still out there.

Edited by Mt.crewchief

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Ok, thats just cool. I see a road trip in the future. maybe make a game of it. We could all find our local arrow and take some pics and post them up.

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mongo,

Have you gone on your road trip yet? According to the map, the closest one to me would be in Wyoming. I would drive several hundred miles just to look at one & take pics of it!

Ken

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Ken, I have not and thats no excuse. But, I will make it happen and post a pic. "Paycheck" I googled Cement Arrows, Transcontinental Air Mail Route. many links popped up.

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I found two of the concrete arrows in Indiana. One is at the Shelbyville Airport in Indiana and is at 39 degrees 34 minutes 36 seconds North and 085 degrees 47 minutes 58 seconds West. This arrow seems to be missing part of the tail. The other arrow is about 10 miles east-southeast of the airport arrow and appears to be complete. It is located in someone's front yard just off a country road at 39 degrees 32 minutes 25 seconds North and 085 degrees 39 minutes 31 seconds West. Both arrows show up on satellite maps at the coordinates above. Here is a picture of the front lawn arrow.[ATTACH=CONFIG]3650[/ATTACH]

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Leland, That is neat, it seems that these people must have attached some importance to keeping their arrow preserved!! Maybe I should take a drive to Wyoming just to see if I can fine one of them closest to me! I forgot, and am too lazy to look it up, but how far apart are they?

Ken

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Ten miles as the crow flies. I found the arrow at the airport from an internet search and used a satellite map to confirm that it was still there. It was inside a fence around the terminal, so I went inside to inquire if it was OK to go outside the building to take a picture. The fellow I talked with was a pilot and told me about the second arrow as he has seen it from the air. The second arrow was a bonus and is the nicer of the two. I'll bet that not a lot of them are left around.

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